On a daily basis, Edmontonian Verne Deans walks along 23 Avenue picking up litter. It’s part exercise, part civic pride.
“I go up and down the whole neighbourhood, all the way to Calgary Trail,” Deans said.
But as he goes through his daily routine, something bothers him; the median that goes down the avenue. Lawn maintenance crews have not been through, and in some areas the grass and weeds are more than a foot high.
“Well, in the last year it’s deteriorated badly,” Deans said, adding, “I’m not sure if there’s a change in policy or what.”
“It’s pretty shabby.”
The city policy has not changed. In fact, during the last round of budget deliberations, the lawn maintenance budget was increased by just over $2 million.
“It’s a small amount in the grande scheme of our budget,” Ward 1 city councillor Andrew Knack said. “But it was a substantial enough increase that it should have an impact on overall grounds maintenance going forward.”
Still, many city-maintained areas are showing overgrowth. And taking up the space are weeds. The city has moved away from herbicide use with the argument that frequent cutting will keep weeds at bay. But in many cases, the grass has lost the battle.
“If you were to go to a city and the boulevards are not kept up, you’re wondering, ‘well, what’s the city doing?'” Edmonton resident Jessica Boyd mused.
Knack believes by next season, the increase in the lawn maintenance budget will be felt.
“I don’t think there needs to be an increase beyond what was recently done,” Knack said.
“We’re supposed to be a world class city,” Deans said.
Meanwhile, back in south Edmonton, Deans will continue to pick up the litter, hoping that one day soon the city will cut the grass on the centre median.
“Do the core services, the basic services that we pay taxes for,” Deans said.